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While You Were Sleeping: The Eagles reclaim No. 1
Through 11 weeks, we have clarity on the NFL’s best team and the best win of the year. At 9-1, the Eagles are your Super Bowl favorites, beating the Chiefs, 21-17.
Last night’s heavyweight bout in Kansas City might’ve also been the best game of the season. I felt tired after merely watching it, and not just because of my daughter’s sleep schedule. The matchup was intense. There is always a chance that a regular-season rematch of the previous year’s Super Bowl never lives up to the hype. This one exceeded.
- Before we get to the Eagles’ heroics, a quick shout out must be given to 7-3 Kansas City’s defense, which has always been seen as a weak link during the Patrick Mahomes era. This year, the unit that allows the NFL’s fifth-fewest yards per play arguably performed better than its much-lauded counterpart. The Eagles gained just 238 yards of offense.
- And yet, when it mattered most, Philly came alive. In one of the NFL’s best environments, the final minutes would’ve been an easy time to bow out. Big ol’ nope from the Eagles. A surgical drive from Jalen Hurts — featuring an elite 41-yarder to DeVonta Smith, down to the 1 — set up a brotherly shove/tush push go-ahead touchdown with 6:20 left.
- A narrative that will continue today: The dropped passes surrounding Mahomes. Kansas City leads the league with 26 drops, none bigger than Marquez Valdes-Scantling’s gaffe late in the fourth:
Chiefs had a chance to score the go-ahead TD on this play 😬 pic.twitter.com/lFR4oMLOna
— ESPN (@espn) November 21, 2023
Hard to come back from that one.
This is the second straight season Philadelphia has started 9-1, the first time we’ve seen that two-year feat since Peyton Manning’s Colts did it in 2005 and 2006. Lions and Ravens fans will bristle, but last night’s game made me hope for an actual Super Bowl rematch. Philly is, of course, No. 1 in our new batch of NFL Power Rankings, fresh out this morning.
Mahomes (and Arrowhead) did win something yesterday, though …
Survey Says: Eagles fans and Cowboys fans, together forever
Today, our first annual NFL anonymous players poll debuts. I love these articles for their unbridled honesty. Make your quibbles with anonymity, but this is how we get true opinions for things like this.
The initial list of answers (85 players participated) is here, and we’ll have more in-depth insights in the coming days. These surveys are extensive. And fun. I want to simply highlight my favorite results:
- Best overall player and field: Mahomes and Arrowhead Stadium. What a golden era this is for the Chiefs, even with last night’s loss. “Don’t you have to say Mahomes?” one player said. Meanwhile, someone voted for Jared Goff.
- Most annoying fan base: Eagles, which I think is hilarious and understandable. I love Philly’s brand of passion, but I can see how rivals think it’s supremely grating. Maybe just beat them. A close runner-up: Cowboys. Perfect list.
- Is the turf vs. grass debate overblown? More than 80 percent of respondents said no — it’s a real concern. The chorus from players is loud on this issue, with health worries at the forefront. “Even warming up on the turf field in Minnesota hurt my knees,” one player said.
See the full list for more, including a lively debate on the value of running backs and one player saying he wants to play in Saudi Arabia.
News to Know
The Knicks lawsuit stays messy
Yesterday, the New York Knicks argued their lawsuit against the Toronto Raptors over alleged stolen scouting reports should remain in federal court, which goes against the wishes of the Raptors and NBA norms. Remember, these disputes are usually decided by the league. The Knicks allege $10 million in damages. Read more about the mess here.
TGL season postponed
Tomorrow’s Golf League, the new venture from Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, won’t debut until 2025 after the league’s venue suffered significant damage last week. The first match had been scheduled for January 9, 2024. See more details here.
- Broncos safety Kareem Jackson might be earning that dirty-player label. The league suspended him four games for a hit on Josh Dobbs this weekend, the second time Jackson’s been suspended this season.
- The Jets seem to have finally moved on from Zach Wilson. The season’s hopes now rest on 29-year-old journeyman Tim Boyle.
- The NCAA granted Cincinnati men’s basketball player Aziz Bandaogo immediate eligibility yesterday after twice denying his petition previously.
Bad Smooches: Dest’s no-good night
Sergiño Dest can be of USMNT’s best players. When he is, he is a stabilizing force in the Americans’ defense, a 23-year-old talent sure to be part of the 2026 World Cup plans. Last night was not his best look.
The Americans were cruising last night, up 1-0 just before halftime in a Copa America qualifying match against Trinidad and Tobago that ultimately meant little. Then, Dest unraveled:
- First, he earned a yellow card for picking up the ball and booting it into the stands after an out-of-bounds call by the linesman. Overreaction in our book.
- The referee agreed and, upon learning of his infraction, Dest kept going, blowing the ref a sarcastic kiss, as seen below. That solicited a second yellow card, culminating in a red card and ejection for Dest.
🟥 Sergiño Dest was red carded in the 39th minute after picking up back-to-back yellow cards inside of a minute.
— The Athletic Soccer (@TheAthleticSCCR) November 21, 2023
USMNT ended up losing the match, 2-1, but still qualified for Copa America on a 4-2 aggregate. On one hand, vibes are bad if one of America’s best players is pulling stuff like this in important matches. On the other, the full video shows Dest getting an earful from multiple teammates. Accountability? We’ll see.
Bonus ejection content! Both Nikola Jokić and Nuggets head coach Michael Malone got tossed before halftime in last night’s 107-103 win over the Pistons. The pair got to watch the second half in the locker room together, like they were in a hockey penalty box or something.
Watch This Game
NCAAM: No. 2 Purdue vs. No. 7 Tennessee
8 p.m. ET on ESPN
Truthfully, these early big matchups (this is the Mau Invitational semifinal) don’t mean too much come NCAA Tournament time, but it does provide plenty of take fodder for us. What I want to know: Is Tennessee a legit top-10 team?
NBA: Raptors at Magic
7 p.m. ET on League Pass
We’re keeping an eye on Orlando, a team perpetually loaded with young talent that never seems to fully pan out. This year, they are off to an 8-5 start, though, and 21-year-old Paolo Banchero looks like a star already.
There’s a new archetype in the NBA: The OG, or the veteran player who doesn’t really play. He’s there for sage advice, mostly, and many winning teams are finding it more and more valuable each season. John Hollinger talked to a few and came away with an excellent read. Worth your time this morning.
The Baseball Hall of Fame announced yesterday its latest ballot for next year’s class. Tyler Kepner takes us through a really fun class … that might not get many candidates through. One possible unanimous pick though, per Jayson Stark’s analysis: Adrián Beltré.
Chris Vannini argues we are undervaluing Washington’s 11-0 season. He lists the Huskies No. 2 in his latest 133-team college football ranking.
Brody Miller has a really fun look at golf’s best 25 players under 25 years old. The future is bright.
A new mailbag arrives from Eric Duhatschek, including nuggets on Patrick Kane’s options, Gary Bettman’s future and a possible expansion team in Houston.
A thriving cricket league in the U.S.? Might be.
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(Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)